Jonathan Salem Baskin

Bright Lights Project: NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ("NASA") was born in the late 1950s, nine months after the Soviet Union successfully launched the first Sputnik satellite into orbit. Its purpose was primarily one of national prestige and military necessity, and President Eisenhower formed it by pulling together a few government labs and engaging with the Nazi engineers we swiped from Germany after WWII. Project Mercury was inaugurated soon thereafter, which would result in putting Alan Shepard into orbit on Freedom 7 in 1961 because, well, that's what the Soviets were doing.

Continue Reading

Unequivocal Action

When accusations of illegal mobile phone hacking and arrests first came to the newspaper News of the World a few years ago, the paper responded in the typically guarded, less-said-the-better dance advised by most lawyers and crisis communications experts. For all the talk of bold answers and transparency, the resulting strategy out of brands getting challenged by challenging crises is to stretch out the pain as long as possible with the least amount of comment or operational effort...thereby betting on everyone losing interest, which is normally what happens.

Continue Reading

Bright Lights Project: MySpace

The facts speak for the themselves: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million and is selling it this week to Specific Media for $35 million. It made its purchase price back perhaps a couple times over by crapping out the site with innumerable ads (remember, News Corp. was simply exploring new distribution channels and the ad model was the most obvious way to monetize the thing). But users abandoned MySpace in droves, from a peak of 90 million in 2006 to 18 million 4 years later. Today, the thing is all but dead.

Continue Reading

Ethical WOM?

"Ethics are the bedrock of WOMMA," starts the web page promoting the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's contest to choose the most ethical word-of-mouth, or "WOM" marketing campaigns. I can't help but think that this is like a seance industry recognizing fair treatment of ghosts and phantasms.

Continue Reading

Do Brands Disappear?

A company called 24/7 Wall St. has published a list of brands that it predicts will "disappear" in the near future: Sears, Sony Pictures, Nokia, and Saab are among the ten names that are doomed. It' not a bad list, but it could tell us a lot more about brands.

Continue Reading

Bright Lights Project: CMO (dot) com

I've had another experience that reaffirmed my belief that the content creation approach to marketing is not only downright irritating, but fatally flawed.

Continue Reading

The Plainspeak Manifesto

I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. The email from the Illinois Teachers Union went on and on about changes to the health insurance program but didn't explicitly explain what they meant, or what teachers should do about it.

Continue Reading

Bright Lights Project: McDonald's

"As an insurance measure, due in part to a recent string of robberies, African-American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction," read the sign captured in a photo and Tweeted to the cosmos last weekend. McDonald's promptly Tweeted that it was a hoax, and then issued a shorter reposte that read "That seriously McDonalds picture is a hoax" (the RT'ing of the photo had run under the tisk-tisk headline "Seriously McDonald's").

Continue Reading

Bright Lights Project: Nokia

The news just goes from bad to worse for Nokia. A huge cut in its sales and profit forecast at the end of last month cratered its stock to its lowest price in 13 years. Then the company was put on credit watch and its rating cut by Standard & Poor's. Nobody's surprised (its fellow hardware maker Motorola has been ineffectually struggling for years).

Continue Reading

Markets Aren't Moral

Not only are they not moral, they're not inherently efficient, let alone just or fair. Markets possess no magic capacity for resolving differences that human beings can't (or won't), and they don't know more or less than we do. They're not bad, but they're not good either. Markets are agnostic to morality.

Continue Reading
Subscribe to RSS - Jonathan Salem Baskin